Killing newborns is morally the same as abortion and should be permissible if the mother wishes it, Australian philosophers have argued in an article that has unleashed a firestorm of criticism and forced the British Medical Journal to defend its publication.
Alberto Giubilini, from Monash University, and Francesca Minerva, from the University of Melbourne, say a foetus and a newborn are equivalent in their lack of a sense of their own life and aspiration. They contend this justifies what they call “after-birth abortion” as long as it is painless, because the baby is not harmed by missing out on a life it cannot conceptualise.
The first flaw in their arguments is that it is not legal to abort a foetus, once it is capable of surviving outside the womb. Abortion is legal because a mother has rights over her womb which trump that of the foetus. Those rights disappear once the foetus can survive outside the womb, and most definitely after they have left the womb.
About a third of infants with Down syndrome are not diagnosed prenatally, Drs Giubilini and Minerva say, and mothers of children with serious abnormalities should have the chance to end the child’s life after, as well as before, birth.
But this should also extend to healthy infants, the pair argue in the BMJ group’s Journal of Medical Ethics, because the interests of a mother who is unwilling to care for it outweigh a baby’s claims.
Putting aside for one moment the main issue, why on earth would the mother have the right to decide, and not both parents? Again once the baby has been born, the parents have equal rights.
On the main issue, I think the proposal is horrific. The precedent it creates is monstrous.
It is worth noting the authors seem to be from the School of Philosophy, not medical doctors.